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April 23 2014
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Women Without Men: A Novel of Modern Iran


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Late American scholar's executor seeks opinion on burial

- The Chairman of the Great Islamic Encyclopedia, Kazem Mousavi Boroujerdi, has written to Iran's Supreme Leader to ask his opinion on the controversy that has brewed over American Iran scholar Richard Nelson Frye and his last wish to be buried in Isfahan. - 4/17/14

Fakhreddini says he is ready to restore Iran's National Orchestra

- Conductor Farhad Fakhreddini has said that he is ready to restore Iran's National Orchestra, which has almost been dismantled over the past five years. "I will keep my promise to the officials and will return to the stage in high spirits to save the National Orchestra," he told the Persian service of IRNA on Tuesday in his first comments he made after being appointed to the orchestra last week. - 4/17/14

Iranian institute organizes puppet show project to promote world peace

- Simorgh, a major Iranian company for theatrical productions, has organized a puppet show project, which plans to promote peace in the world. A group composed of Iranian, British, U.S., Canadian and Turkish thespians and puppeteers is scheduled to travel across the world to perform an antiwar play entitled "The Last Leaf" - 4/15/14

The Tomb of Persian Poet Attar in Neyshabur

- Happy Attar Day!: April 14 is National Attar Day in Iran. Abu Ḥamid bin Abu Bakr Ibrahim (c. 1145 - c. 1221), better known by his pen-names Farid ud-Din and Aṭṭar ("the perfumer"), was a Persian Muslim poet, theoretician of Sufism, and hagiographer from Neyshabur who had an immense and lasting influence on Persian poetry and Sufism. - 4/14/14

Iran's Culture Wars: Who's Winning These Days?

- In Iran, hardline critics are waging a campaign against President Hassan Rouhani to limit his campaign pledge of opening Iran to more social and cultural freedoms. The "culture wars" are as old as the Islamic revolution that swept conservative clerics to power more than three decades ago. -Deborah Amos, NPR - 4/13/14

Hard-Liners Outraged Over U.S. Scholar's Planned Burial In Iran

- An American scholar who asked to be buried in the central Iranian city of Isfahan has been called "Western garbage" and a "CIA spy" by a local cleric amid an uproar by hard-liners who oppose the planned interment in the Islamic republic. Frye, a prominent and highly respected scholar of Iranian studies, had asked in his will to be buried next to the Zayandeh Rud river, which flows through Isfahan. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE - 4/12/14

Iranian MP requests permit to let American scholar be buried in Iran

- Ali Motahari, a member of the Iranian Parliament's Cultural Commission, has called on the government to issue a permit to allow Richard Nelson Frye, the recently deceased American scholar and expert on Iranian and Central Asian Studies, to be buried in Isfahan. - 4/11/14

Photos: The Village Children in Bashagard

- Life for the children in Bashagard County villages is very simple. No toys, no internet, no running water, no parks, ... The time seems to have stopped moving forward in these villages where 21st century has failed to arrive. - 4/8/14

Fakhreddini, Sahbaii return to National Orchestra, Tehran Symphony Orchestra

- Farhad Fakhreddini and Manuchehr Sahbaii have been hired to conduct Iran's National Orchestra and the Tehran Symphony Orchestra (TSO), two state ensembles, which were almost dismantled over the past five years. - 4/8/14

One Year, Two Celebrations in Iran

- It would not be an exaggeration to say that this year Iranians celebrated two grand events: one for Nowruz (the Persian New Year which falls on the first day of spring) and the other at the end of the two-week Nowruz holidays, when the release of kidnapped Iranian soldiers was announced. -Issa Saharkhiz - 4/7/14

Photos: Iranian celebrate Sizdah Bedar by spending time in nature

- People across Iran celebrated Sizdah-Bedar, the traditional Persian festival of nature, on Wednesday by spending time outdoor. Sizdah-Bedar, an ancient Iranian nature festival, is held on the 13th of Farvardin (first month in Iranian calendar) and marks the end of the Persian New Year (Norouz) celebrations. - 4/2/14

Gingerly, Iran begins to rock out

- In 2008, Iran banned all pop music. But a recent female solo performance signals growing freedom in a country where heavy metal musicians have been told to stay seated on stage. -Scott Peterson, CSM - 4/1/14

Former leader of Jews in Iran dies at 100

- Rabbi Yousef Hamedani Cohan, a former leader of the Iranian Jewry, passed away on March 29 at the age of 100. Rabbi Hamedani Cohan, who led Iranian Jews from 1994 to 2007, was laid to rest yesterday. - 4/1/14

Mehran Tamadon Wins Cinema Du Reel Grand Prize for "Iranian"

- It took two years for Mehran Tamadon to persuade the four supporters of the Iranian regime to risk taking part in an experiment with him. Now he receives them as guests at his family's country house to try out something that does not exist in Iran: a pluralistic society. - 3/30/14

Norouz can lead to "political union" among countries: Iranian President

- Iranian president who was attending the the 5th international Norouz (Persian New Year) celebrations in Kabul on Thursday said that Norouz is an elegant heritage of ancient time and a good opportunity to lead to political union among the countries. - 3/28/14

Photos: Norouz Travelers in Isfahan

- Isfahan is located on the main north-south and east-west routes crossing Iran, and was once one of the largest cities in the world. It flourished from 1050 to 1722, particularly in the 16th century under the Safavid dynasty, when it became the capital of Persia for the second time in its history. - 3/27/14

Moonshine is just a phone call away in Islamic Iran

- Despite the ban on alcohol and frequent police raids, drinking in Iran is widespread, especially among the wealthy. Because the Shiite-dominated Muslim state has no discotheques or nightclubs, it all takes place at home, behind closed doors. -Parisa Hafezi, Reuters - 3/26/14

How to Nowruz like a Persian

- The festival of spring came to mark the beginning of the New Year, preceded by Frawardigan-Night of All Souls-dedicated to the remembrance of the spirits of the dearly departed. Houses were cleaned and food and drinks were laid out for these spirits believed to come down to earth during this time of the year to visit their homes and families and receive blessings. -A.J. Cave - 3/25/14

Rare Glimpses of Iran's Lost Underworld

- When Iran was still a Westernized monarchy, Mr. Golestan recorded in stark black-and-white the daily lives of Iran's dispossessed. An exhibition of one of his most dramatic subjects - prostitutes confined to Tehran's red-light district known as the Citadel of Shahr-e No (New City) - opens in the Foam Photography Museum in Amsterdam -NY Times - 3/24/14

PAAIA Celebrates Nowruz on Capitol Hill

- PAAIA's annual Nowruz reception on Capitol Hill is part of its broader effort to celebrate and foster greater understanding of Iranian culture, and to project an accurate and positive image of the Iranian American community. In attendance were ten members of Congress as well as more than a hundred and fifty congressional staff and special guests. - 3/22/14

Persian New Year's Table Celebrates Nature's Rebirth Deliciously

- The first day of spring is cause for a celebration, especially after the winter many of us have been having. But it's hard to top the 13-day festivities of the Persian New Year, Nowruz. -Davar Ardalan and April Fulton, NPR - 3/22/14

Happy Nowruz and New Iranian Year

- Originating in Iran's ancient history, Nowruz is celebrated by more than 300 million people worldwide on March 21, the day of the spring Equinox, which marks the sun's crossing of the Equator and the start of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. Nowruz is as one of the oldest and most cherished festivities celebrated for at least 3,000 years. -Firouzeh Mirrazavi - 3/19/14

Photos: Sarbedaran Persian New Year Ritual Dance

- In the city of Sabzevar in northeastern Iran, an interesting traditional ritual is performed in the last days of the year before the new year (Norouz) arrives. In this ritual known as Sarbedaran, men move in a circle performing various moves with their hands and wooden sticks. This is similar to other rituals performed after harvesting crops when people would pray to God. - 3/19/14

Iranians Prepare For Traditional New Year Celebrations

- Iranians are shopping for traditional food and other items ahead of the Nowruz holiday, or Persian New Year. Celebrations will start on Thursday night, with music, dance and elaborate meals. A festive table traditionally includes seven dishes, known as "haft-seen," or "seven S's," because their names start with the letter "S" in Persian. -Zlatica Hoke, VOA - 3/19/14

Videos: Persian New Year, Norouz

- Nowruz, "New Day", is the holiest and most joyful festival of the Zoroastrian year and the most important national festival for all Iranians. Its celebration is recorded from the Achaemenian period around 500 BCE. - 3/19/14

Iranians Celebrate Chaharshanbeh Souri

- Similar to other years, Iranians all across the country celebrate the ancient Persian tradition of Last-Wednesday-of-the-Year Fireworks (Chaharshanbeh Souri) tonight as a prelude to Nowruz (the start of the new year). On the evening of Chaharshanbeh Souri, people make fires and jump over them. Chaharshanbeh Souri is an ancient Iranian fire festival dating back to at least 1700 BCE of the early Zoroastrian era. The festival marks the arrival of spring and revival of nature. - 3/18/14

Nowruz Meet and Greet at Oakland Museum of California

- Oakland's popular weekly family nights will represent the Persian New Year celebration "Nowruz"! Join OMCA and Off the Grid on 10th Street for a taste of local music, food, art, culture! Savor California beer, wine and non-alcoholic beverages around the Koi Pond at the Blue Oak beer garden. - Friday, March 28, 2014, 5-9 pm - 3/18/14

Nowruz, the Persian New Year at the spring vernal equinox

- The blossoming of the white, red, yellow and violet crocuses of the saffron family in their front yard and the deep yellow forsythia hedgers on their property line, herald the arrival of spring in New York. Daria was reminiscing on last Tuesday night's gathering-the family had attended Chaharshanbe Suri, the Zoroastrian fire ritual in the Cultural Center, which is the prelude to Nowruz. -Davood Rahni - 3/17/14

Why Iran's youth don't fly the nest

- Many young Iranian adults live rent free with their parents - at a social cos.... "So why don't you leave the nest?" I reflexively inquire. My friend pauses and stares at me. I'm not sure if he's stopped pouring me a drink because he feels I've had too much or because I've asked him one too many stupid questions - maybe both. -Guardian - 3/15/14

Nowruz Sweets and Dishes

- Like any good holiday, food plays a major role at Nowruz. Having a feast is half the reason for getting together! There are specific foods associated with Nowruz: noodles for untying life's complications, fresh herbs for rebirth, eggs for fertility, and fish for life. -Firouzeh Mirrazavi, Iran Review - 3/14/14

Iran faces zero population growth in three decades

- The head of Iran's Civil Registry says the country's population growth rate will hit zero in 30 years. Mohammad Nazemi Ardekani said the country then will begin facing a decline in population. The report established that Iran's current population is 77.3 million with a fertility rate of 1.7. - 3/14/14

'Modelling Iranian style': surgical alterations and the 'porn star' look

- There is a "fever for modelling" in Tehran right now, says a photographer who has been working in the field for 20 years, as the profession has become a "status marker" in a vanity-driven culture. And the look that's in vogue among female models is far from what many would consider natural Iranian beauty. -Sara Afzal, Guardian - 3/14/14

Iranian (Persian) New Year 2014-1393 Times

- Nowruz (Norouz) Times - 2014 - 1393 Nowruz marks the first day of spring and the beginning of the Iranian year. It is celebrated on the day of the astronomical vernal equinox, the start of spring in the northern hemisphere. - 3/11/14

Photos: Iranian Woman Mahnaz Mirzaei Rules Sarapardeh Coal Mine!

- Mahnaz Mirzaei was born in 1980 in the town of Zarand in Kerman province of Iran. She received a Bachelor of Mining Engineering from Kerman's Shahid Bahonar University. Mirzaei who is interested in tough or in her words "manly" jobs, chose to work at a coal mine. In 2005, she started working at an underground mine. Because of her hard work, dedication and interest, she was promoted to the head of the mine in 2006. - 3/8/14

Why some people have no tolerance for linguistic diversity?

- I was talking with two friends in the dressing room of a gym. A lady came from the shower, walked to her locker, grabbed her clothes, turned around to us and said: "I don't understand a word of what you are saying to each other". My friend: "Don't worry, madam. Our conversation is not very exciting. We are discussing a Persian recipe". -Ferdows Kazemi - 3/4/14

An Exhibition Blending Design and Calligraphy

- Perhaps only a few people imagined that imprinting Persian alphabet letters or verses from Persian poets on articles of clothing would generate interest among young people. The various designs that Iranian born Nima Behnoud, the designer of the Nimany brand, uses on clothes has enticed many Iranian youth outside the country to wear these clothes. -Bahareh Khosravi - 2/27/14

Golreezan Launches New Products Including Kitchenware And Nowruz Cards

- Golreezan, an Iranian-American design brand, is thrilled to announce a variety of new and exciting Persian-inspired products, including its first ever kitchenware line, Nowruz cards and more. - 2/26/14

Smithsonian's Freer and Sackler Galleries Celebrate the Persian New Year with a Free Family Festival

- The Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery will present its sixth annual "Nowruz: A Persian New Year Celebration" free family festival Saturday, March 8, from 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Throughout the day, visitors of all ages can dance, play and feast to mark the Persian year of 1393 at a celebration encompassing both museums and including live music, film, art making, hands-on workshops and traditional cuisine. - 2/25/14

Bahman Kiarostami's "The Statues of Tehran" to be screened in San Francisco

- In essence, The Statues of Tehran interrogates the function of monuments in today's Tehran, an ideology-ridden postmodern megalopolis, afflicted with forgetfulness. It tracks the fate of two important public sculptures, the first, a pioneering work commissioned by the royal family in the 1970s, of then foremost modern sculptor Bahman Mohassess; the second a tribute to the Islamic Revolution standing in Enghelab Circus (Revolution Roundabout), by Iraj Esskandari. - 2/24/14

Fajr International Music Festival announces winners

- Winners of the 29th Fajr International Music Festival were announced during a ceremony at Tehran's Vahdat Hall on Thursday evening. First prize in the Western classical music category was shared by Hadi Rahmani for "A Suite for Orchestra" and Erfan Vakili for "Gonad-e Aflak", organizers announced on Friday. In the classical music category, the first prize was shared by Kurosh Matin for "Dawn", and Mojtaba Habibi for "Intimates". - 2/22/14

"Painting Pool" producer receives UNESCO Award in Tehran

- "The Painting Pool" producer Manucher Mohammadi received the UNESCO Award, which his film won at the 7th Annual Asia Pacific Screen Awards (APSA) in Australia in December 2013, during a ceremony in Tehran on Monday. - 2/19/14

A New Life For Iran's Orchestras?

- After the 1979 Islamic Revolution, music was considered corrupt and decadent to the ears of religious hard-liners. The tone softened somewhat in the coming years. The annual Fajr International Music Festival, which runs from February 13-20 this year and is considered one of Iran's most prestigious cultural events, began in 1986 under the presidency of former Culture Minister Mohammad Khatami. -Golnaz Esfandiari and Mohammad Zarghami - 2/17/14

Another view on Iran. Documented by photographer Hossein Fatemi

- Over 20 years of news and photos from Iran were fairly uniform: a woman in a burqa, public executions, demonstrations with burning flags and rumors of nuclear weapons. However, the reality of everyday life in this ancient country is more complex and diverse. - 2/14/14

Poetry ology: wars, words, and women

- St. Valentine's Day is that time of the year we wallow in all sorts of sweet things pink and red in celebration of romance and romantic love. The day is named after Saint Valentine who is listed in the Christian Martyrology, and is celebrated by a number of Christian denominations (sans Catholics) as the Feast of Saint Valentine. -A.J. Cave - 2/13/14

The Iconic Cafe Nadery: From Tehran To New York

- Cafe Nadery is a community-driven Cafe in historical Greenwich Village in downtown Manhattan. The vision of the Cafe is to create a contemporary Iranian-culture inspired cosmopolitan social space for both Iranians and non-Iranians in the New York City area. Founded in 1928 by an Iranian-Armenian, Khachik Madikiyans, Naderi Cafe in Tehran was one of the first western Cafes in the country. - 2/9/14

Ark(e)ology for a rainy day

- There is an art to writing the beginnings and the endings of stories. But these days most of us are inflicted with an extreme case of busyness, so we just scan the first few lines of a book and if it grabs our attention, we flip to the last page to see if we like how it ends, and if it measures up, we add it to our growing stack of "read someday" books, collecting dust and yellowing on a shelf somewhere. -A.J. Cave - 2/6/14

Iran takes emergency measures to tackle unprecedented snowfall

- Emergency measures have been taken to resolve the problems that thousands of people are experiencing in northern parts of Iran as a result of the heaviest snowstorm in five decades, which has buried some areas under two meters of snow. - 2/5/14

Mehdi Mohaqqeq retakes helm of Iranian Society of Cultural Works and Luminaries

- Three years after being ousted by the culture minister of the Mahmoud Ahamdinejad's administration from the Iranian Society of Cultural Works and Luminaries, the prominent scholar Mehdi Mohaqqeq has returned to take the helm of the society again. - 2/5/14

Photos: Heavy Snow in Rasht, Northern Iran

- First snow of the winter season gave a white cover to the caspian coast city of Rasht in northern Iran on Saturday. Rasht is the capital of Gilan Province and the largest city on Iran's Caspian Sea coast - 2/2/14

Photos: Iranians flock to movie theaters on free admission day

- Iran's movie theaters across the country hosted thousands of filmgoers, who, once again after a lapse of several years, were offered free admission on Thursday, the day named Greetings to Cinema Day by the Iran Cinema Organization (ICO). People who had not gone to cinema for many years along with interested filmgoers waited in the long queues to watch movies from the early hours of the day - 2/1/14

Photos: The Bald Heroes!

- When Iranian schoolteacher Ali Mohammadian noticed that one of his students was being bullied after going bald as a result of a mysterious illness, he decided to show solidarity and shave his own hair. In no time, his entire class shaved their heads and the bullying stopped. - 1/29/14

11 Persian Sayings That Make No Sense In English

- Translating idioms and sayings into other languages is always an exercise in humor- often, you've repeated them so many times without thinking about what is literally being said. We decided to make a list of the 11 funniest Persian sayings and translate them literally into English, along with a photo accompaniment of their literal meanings. -Persian with Chai and Conversation - 1/25/14

Bazaarpool, Iranian musicians team up to commemorate Asita Hamidi

- The Swiss band Bazaarpool and a number of Iranian musicians have teamed up to pay homage to the late Austrian musician of Iranian origin Asita Hamidi during concerts in Tehran. Hamidi, a 51-year-old singer and harpist who lived in Bern, Switzerland, died of a type of blood cancer in December 2012. - 1/17/14

Authorities Close Cultural Events in Tehran Despite Rouhani's Recent Support of Artists

- A large crowd of eager guests, some of whom had traveled long distances, were not allowed to attend a cultural event organized by Chelcheragh magazine on Sunday, January 12, cancelled on orders from the Tehran General and Revolutionary Courts Prosecutor, according to the Police Commander. - 1/16/14

Exhibition and Lectures: Travel the Silk Road in Los Angeles!

- During its golden age (AD 600 to 1200), the Silk Road opened up the world to new ideas and products. It stretched 4,600 miles through scorching desert sands and freezing snowy mountain passes, from eastern China through Central Asia to the Middle East. - 1/15/14

Silk Road Ensemble Celebrates Cultural Harmony

- Spices, fragrant oils, gems and silk were bought and sold along the 6,500-kilometer trading route that stretched from China to the Mediterranean. However, cellist and UN Peace Ambassador Yo-Yo Ma says cross-cultural exchanges and understanding were the ancient route's most precious products. Ma founded the 31-member ensemble, whose members represent 20 countries, to express that spirit of exploration and sharing. -Adam Phillips, VOA - 1/12/14

Art without freedom is nonsense: President Rohani

- Iranian President Hassan Rohani said that creativity is developed in the light of freedom and that art without freedom is nonsense. President Rohani made the remarks at Tehran's Vahdat Hall on Wednesday evening during a meeting attended by a large number of artists, literati, cineastes and groups of presidential advisors and officials. - 1/11/14

Iran's thriving rap culture

- Wearing baggy clothes and starter caps, teenage boys had come to Tehran's Friday Bazaar to hit on girls. Posing, they threw their hands in the air making gestures - gang signs. The odd concoction of a circle, two fingers and one finger on each hand was symbolic of the Iranian capital's area code: 021. -Holly Dagres, Al-Monitor - 1/10/14

President Rohani: Art can flourish in a democratic society

- President Hassan Rohani on Wednesday met with a group of Iranian prominent artists and emphasized his determination to provide an appropriate situation for artistic creativity. Criticizing those who look at art from a security point of view, the president said art is not a menace and artists do not threaten the security of the country and the government should trust the art and artists. - 1/9/14

Video Asks Iranians: What Would You Do If You Could Do Anything You Wanted?

- "If you could do anything you wanted, what would you do?" That's the question Iranian artist Ali Molavi asked 50 people in Tehran, including a young man dressed as a fan of heavy metal music who says he would destroy the world if he could. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE - 1/9/14

2014 Nowruz Banner Contest Winner Announced

- The winning design, now unveiled for the first time, will be featured on street banners in Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley in promotion of Farhang's upcoming Nowruz celebrations in March 2014. Afsoon Riazi, a graphic designer based in Vancouver, Canada has created this year's winning design, at the heart of which is a red apple. - 1/7/14

Photos: Wonders Of The World - Going 60 Years With No Bath

- The 80-year-old Amoo Hadji who lives in the village of Dezhgah (city of Farashband in Fars province), has not showered for almost 60 years. Amoo Hadji lives the most primitive life. His most valuable possession seems to be a three-inch steel pipe which he uses to smoke animal dung with. - 1/6/14

MP Talks With Rooz: Fifteen Percent Illiteracy in Iran is a Disaster

- About 10 million of Iran's 67 million people who are over the age of six can neither read nor write, according to a literacy official. Also, according to UNESCO, Iran's 86th among the world's 164 countries in literacy. The head of Iran's literacy program announced these figures and added, ൗ percent of Iranians continue to be illiterate." -Niusha Saremi - 1/5/14

PHOTOS: One dead, dozens hurt as quake hits Hormuzgan province of Iran

- At least one was killed and dozens were wounded in the 5.5-magnitude earthquake which jolted the town of Bastak in Hormuzgan province, Southern Iran, on Thursday. A large number of residential units have been damaged and panic-stricken people have left their homes and stay outdoor. - 1/2/14

Photos: Iranian Christians Mark New Year 2014 at Sarkis Church in Tehran

- Iran's Armenian Christian community held a ceremony at Sarkis Church in Tehran early Wednesday morning to celebrate the New Year 2014. During the ceremony, special prayers were said and candles were lit. This was also a chance for some to pose with the Santa! - 1/1/14

Photos: First Snow Of The Season In Tehran

- The first snow of the winter season gave a white cover to Tehran on Wednesday and brought a much needed relief from the recent high levels of air pollution. Some residents took to the heights in northern Tehran to take advantage of the fresh powder and air. -Hemmat Khahi - 1/1/14

The Iranian stars who were purged from history

- History is written by the victors. This adage is glaringly true in Iran, where press and TV archives were shut down after the revolution in 1979, as the country's new leaders sought to suppress anyone who didn't fit in with their ideal of an Islamic state. Actors, models, or athletes who were big stars just a few decades ago have been all but forgotten - except by a few people, like our Observer, who painstakingly track down the little information they can find. -France24 - 12/31/13

Photos: The People Of Bam, 10 Years After Quake

- On December 26, 2003, the city of Bam in southern Iran was hit with a devastating quake. About 32,000 people lost their lives as the quake flattened 70% of Bam's buildings and equally devastated the nearby town of Baravat and 260 area villages. Tens of thousands more lost their livelihoods. Ten years later, the shadow of the quake still hangs over the city of Bam. - 12/30/13

Book: A Guide to Survive in Tehran

- Bamdad Ghaffari, an Iranian man who returned home in 2012 years after living in Canada, has satirized the lifestyle in the capital in his book "A Guide to Survive in Tehran". The book, which has recently been published by the Bamdad-e No Company, contains twelve articles about the problems of living in the capital - 12/30/13

Zoroastrians confront threat to their existence

- MUMBAI - The world's tiny but hugely successful Zoroastrian community will confront a demographic crisis which threatens its very existence when it gathers en masse in its spiritual home of Mumbai this week. -The National, UAE - 12/29/13

Photos: Arbaeen 2013

- Arbaeen is a Shia Muslim religious observance that occurs 40 days after the Day of Ashura. It commemorates the martyrdom of Hussein bin Ali, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad which falls on the 20th day of the month of Safar. - 12/27/13

Concert in Tehran: Iran from Viewpoint of a Japanese Pianist

- Noriko Ogawa, the Japanese pianist traveled to Iran last month on an invitation extended to her by the Japanese Embassy in Tehran. During her stay, she performed piano pieces in Iranian cities of Tehran and Shiraz. What follows is a part of her account of the Iran trip which she has sent to the BBC. - 12/26/13

Contribute to the making of documentary "We the People of the Islamic Republic of Iran"

- WTPIRI, a feature length documentary, will tell the story of Iran today and show some pretty amazing people and places. We are looking to start shooting WTPIRI in 2014, and are scheduled tp travel to the Fajr Film Festival in Feb. to meet with some of the people we will feature in the documentary, and enjoy some great films! - 12/26/13

Photos: Yalda 2013

- Following the fall of the Sasanian Empire and the subsequent rise of Islam in Persia, the religious significance of the event was lost, and like other Zoroastrian festivals, Yalda became a social occasion when family and close friends would get together. Nonetheless, the obligatory serving of fresh fruit during mid-winter is reminiscent of the ancient customs of invoking the divinities to request protection of the winter crop. - 12/23/13

Images: Recent Social and Political Caricatures

- Iranian political cartoons have a very strong impact on political discussions and social discussions. Recently the scope for public expression has become much wider; people feel much more empowered. - 12/23/13
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